The About.com Guide to Stress asked me the following question, "How do members of the LDS Church conceptualize stress, and what are recommended ways of relieving stress that may be unique to your group?" Well, studying stress from a LDS perspective has been a good assignment for me as I've recently been under a huge amount of stress. I've read, studied, and pondered quite a bit about this and here are some key points I've come up with.
Experiencing Stress is Necessary:
Experiencing stress is a necessary part of experiencing life. Dr. Val D. MacMurray (a Latter-day Saint) said, "Remember, stress can have good effects; it is probably necessary for our continued growth. I believe that learning to manage stress, rather than becoming its victim, is one of our important assignments during mortality, for we will never again experience time and physical limitations in quite the same way" ("When Life Is Getting You Down," Ensign, June 1984, 56.) What is important is how we learn to handle stress.
Three Areas of Stress:
Stress comes from many directions and from varied aspects of our lives and by understanding where the stress is coming from gives us the choice to act instead of react. Stress comes from three main areas of life, from: sin, the world, and within. Following is a brief explanation of each area of stress including the keys to overcoming them, from a LDS perspective.
First: Stress Comes from Sin:
Although committing some sins doesn't bring immediate consequences during this life many sins do, which can cause huge amounts of stress. Lili De Hoyos Anderson said, "It is not difficult to see that breaking the laws of God does, sooner or later, bring numerous negative results—the stresses of sin. Breaking the Word of Wisdom, for example, brings physical stress, illness, even premature death. Breaking the laws of morality causes injured hearts, damaged relationships, broken families, and sometimes the physical consequences of disease."("The Stresses of Life," Ensign, Feb. 1994, 47.)
The Key is Repentance:
Repentance is the key to relieving this stress. Choosing to overcoming addiction, to be moral and chaste, to be honesty, etc will remove the negative consequences, and stress, of such sins. See these articles, "Repentance" and "Steps of Repentance" to learn more.
Second: Stress comes from the World:
Being in this world is a part of life, but when life becomes unbalanced we feel stress. There is too much to do and not enough time (or money, or talent, etc.) to do it in. We have good desires to accomplish good things but we can't do everything, it's just not possible. In The Book of Mormon it says, "See that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order" (Mosiah 4:27.)
The Key is Prioritize and Simplify:
I've learned that when the stresses of life start to overwhelm me I have to step back and do two things: prioritize & simplify. Lili Anderson taught to gauge things that are stressing us by thinking of this statement: "A man running for his life would never notice something like this." She continues, "At times we may all need to apply this kind of philosophy liberally to our own temporal concerns. No one knows better than you the things that cause you worldly stress. Make a list. Then get out the red pencil and (this is the tricky part) be ruthless! Cross out the items that don’t pass the running-for-your-life test."
Third: Stress Comes From Within:
As Latter-day Saints we push ourselves, often in great urgency, to be better, to try and become perfect like Christ. Often we become discouraged and stress over our weaknesses and imperfections. Becoming like Christ is a refining process. Not only is it slow, but it's a lifetime struggle because we are not perfect-we are imperfect beings. But we should remember that our Savior already knows each of our imperfections. He know us, and our weaknesses. Yet he still love us! All he asks is that we do our very best.
The Key is Enduring to the End:
When we fall we must pick ourselves back up and continue down the path toward him. This is called enduring to the end. In The Book of Mormon we read, "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life" (2 Ne. 31: 20.)
My Testimony of Dealing with Stress:
I have personally felt peace come into my life as I've been able to recognize stress and choose to act in a positive, productive way by applying the three keys mentioned above. Once we come to understand and recognize stress we can choose to act instead of allowing ourselves to react.
Poll: How do you relieve stress?
Poll: How do you relieve stress?